Costa Rica stands out among the countries of the world as a model to follow, due to health indicators, life expectancy of the population, low infant mortality rates, among others, and they attribute it to the successful Primary Care (PHC).
For an assertive explanation, it is important to recognize the context and evolution of the Costa Rican Health System. Costa Rica is a social state of law, with a long democratic history, a solid Public Health and the Social Security system (CCSS).
A country recognized as a protector of human rights; Health being a preponderant universal right guaranteed by the political constitution. The foregoing builds the political, legal and institutional framework propitious for the development of PHC in all its breadth.
The Pandemic, putting the system to test
The pandemic highlighted the strengths and weaknesses of the system to comprehensively address the side effects of the COVID pandemic. Unlike other countries, Costa Rica has a historical memory of successful experiences in the field of health and crisis situations. The timely response articulated between the different instances of the health system, political, economic and social, with the direction and leadership of the high political authorities; This being a fundamental factor in making quick, timely and effective decisions.
The multidisciplinary and intersectoral teams, including the population and civil society, gained great relevance at the national level and transcends to regional and local levels where municipalities as local government, assume their role in which community members and civil society. This type of organization is considered in a model based on PHC.
A health model was built in the country that revolutionized traditional health systems because it transcended an establishment or a health professional, or the attention or absence of disease, to a much broader concept, with many dimensions that some describe as the “Social Construction of Health”.
Reaching the entire population
The country has historically had a universal, robust health system with coverage of approximately 95% of the population. This has contributed to life expectancy in the country reaching 79.6 years and ranking among the highest in the world, as indicated by the World Health Organization.
The country has about thirty hospitals and clinics at the regional level and more than a thousand basic comprehensive care teams at the community level with all the necessary equipment and supplies.
This solid and consolidated health system as a benchmark in Costa Rican society has allowed it to have all the tools and preparation and organization measures to care for the population, prioritizing the preservation of life and the protection of health over any other issue, including politics.
It should be noted that the country has a National System for Risk Management and an entire operational and technical structure that is deployed from the declaration of alerts or a state of emergency in the event of an adverse event.
Costa Rica also has care and preparation plans for possible pandemics, based on previous experiences with bird flu, AH1N1 influenza, SARS, and Covid-19, in which the minister himself participates as coordinator and part of the technical teams, of the Health Surveillance Directorate together with the president of the Costa Rican Social Security Fund, become references and authorities for the entire population, on the measures to follow to avoid contagion and stop the spread.
All of the above shows us how the health system in Costa Rica is a model to be followed worldwide… congratulations!